Robert BarronBlack Press
The Municipality of North Cowichan wants public input on a proposal to raise revenue by offering the private sector sponsorships and naming rights on municipal properties.
North Cowichan’s council decided at its Wednesday, June 1 meeting to postpone a decision on the issue until its meeting on July 20, to give the public an opportunity to express opinions.
Staff had provided council with a list of 15 municipal properties that could potentially be open to sponsorships and name changes.
The list includes Crofton Pool, Fuller Lake Arena, the Cowichan Sportsplex and the Sports Hall of Fame.
A staff report said the Cowichan Aquatic Centre is key to developing a successful municipal sponsorship program.
“The Island Savings Centre, located adjacent to the CAC, has a 10-year sponsorship agreement, worth $100,000 annually,” the report stated.
“All net sponsorship revenues generated by the CAC will be used to offset municipal infrastructure programs and operations at the CAC that will, in turn, help reduce the property tax burden [on municipal taxpayers].”
But Coun. Rob Douglas said society is “already saturated” with ads, and he’s concerned about the proposal to bring them into properties owned by the public.
“It’s depressing what levels these companies can go to,” he said.
“I think we have to draw the line somewhere.”
Coun. Maeve Maguire said she’s not opposed to sponsorships, but she would like to see more oversight of the program by council, if it proceeds.
“There’s some sensitivity to this in the community, so I think each applicant for a sponsorship should be required to come to council at the beginning of the process,” she said.
CAO Dave Devana said staff would like to have a list of the properties that councillors would be comfortable with allowing to be sponsored approved by the group.
“We wouldn’t want to make a sale [of a sponsorship] that council would not approve of,” he said.
“It’s important that we have a high level of comfort with this. If not, then we would not move ahead with it.”